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Photofacial Aftercare: Our Guide + Tips

Photofacial Aftercare: Our Guide + Tips

Photofacials may not have the same initial name recognition as dermal fillers like Juvederm or Botox, but they are just as effective at what they do. However, like other cosmetic treatments, photofacials also come with their own set of potential side effects as the skin heals.

Luckily, these side effects are often temporary and can be managed with the right post-treatment care.

What is a photofacial?

At Skin Pharm, when we talk about photofacials, we’re actually talking about a specific type of facial known as the broadband light (BBL) photofacial.

BBL photofacials are light-therapy cosmetic treatments performed by a licensed skin care provider in the safety of an office setting. These treatments not only provide immediate results but also require nearly non-existent downtime. 

BBL photofacials provide a variety of cosmetic benefits, including:

  • Making the skin appear more radiant
  • Improving fine lines and wrinkles
  • Minimizing the appearance of acne scarring and stretch marks
  • Treating visible signs of sun damage
  • Reducing redness and rosacea 

A BBL photofacial treatment starts with applying a clear gel onto the treated areas. You’ll also be given protective eyewear. 

Once you’re ready, we’ll “zap” those treatment areas with targeted broadband light. If you’re nervous about how this will feel, you can be assured that most patients undergoing BBL photofacial treatment say it feels similar to a rubber band being snapped quickly — a little discomfort is well worth the results!

We don’t recommend BBL photofacials for treating melasma. If you’re looking for ways to manage this skin condition, ask your skin care provider about chemical peel, Gold Infusion, microneedling or PRP treatment options.

Should I do anything special before my appointment?

Although photofacial aftercare is crucial, you can also do a few things before your appointment to make the most of your treatment. 

Any side effects from BBL photofacials are temporary, but we still recommend scheduling your appointment at least two weeks before any important occasions. This gives the skin enough time to heal appropriately. 

You’ll be asked to reschedule if you have any active cold sores or rashes in the treatment areas, so let your skin care provider know immediately if you develop either issue.

With your doctor’s permission, avoid using any medications that cause photosensitivity (like doxycycline or minocycline) 72 hours before treatment. You’ll also want to stay away from laser procedures or waxing a week before your appointment and stop tanning (and using self-tanner) for two weeks prior. 

Photofacial aftercare

The main side effects of photofacials are related to the temporary disruption of your skin barrier. You might experience minor bruising, redness and swelling in the areas that were treated with the broadband light. Photofacial aftercare is crucial to minimize these side effects. 

Here are a few tips from our skin care professionals:

  • Avoid direct sunlight (including tanning beds) or prolonged exposure to the sun for as long as possible. If you need to go out in the sun, especially mid-day when the sun is at its most intense, wear a hat, long sleeves and pants and a protective sunscreen.
  • Avoid picking or scratching at the areas of treatment.
  • Drink plenty of water during your post-treatment period. Water is crucial for your skin, so providing it with that moisture (inside and out) is especially helpful.
  • Stay away from sources of heat (hot tubs, saunas, etc.) for the first day or two after your treatment.
  • Wait 24 hours before restarting any chemical or physical exfoliants in your skin care routine. You can return to the remainder of your skin care routine the same day. However, hydration in the form of a supportive moisturizer is crucial, so don’t forget to moisturize!

Be aware that areas of hyperpigmentation have a tendency to get darker in the first 24 to 48 hours after your appointment, so don’t be alarmed. Over the next week, these areas will slowly start to exfoliate off of your face.

Similarly, vascular areas may get redder and more visible for a day or two before fading and healing. 

How often can I get a facial?

How often can you safely get a facial to maximize your results? The answer to that question depends on your skin type. 

We recommend working with one of our advanced practice providers to identify your specific goals, skin type and needs. With that information in mind, you can work together to create a schedule and supportive skin care routine that helps you reach your goals and minimize the potential for side effects.

Can photofacials be combined with other skin care treatments?

While photofacials are beneficial on their own, they can also be combined with other treatments for an even more obvious change in your appearance. 

For example, BBL photofacials and Botox are an effective duo for managing fine lines and wrinkles. Photofacials effectively support collagen production and tighten skin, while Botox works more quickly to “smooth” the appearance of the skin. 

In conclusion… 

Photofacial aftercare is crucial to getting the most out of your BBL photofacial treatment. In addition to recognizing and minimizing the potential for side effects, treating your skin the right way can help your treatment be as effective as possible. 

We’re here to help you create the right schedule and skin care routine to help keep your skin looking and feeling its best — everyone deserves to love the skin they’re in!

Peer review

This article was medically reviewed by Madeline Stoffer, MSN, NP-BC, a board-certified nurse practitioner with 6 years of experience in cosmetic dermatology.


Microbiota and maintenance of skin barrier function | Science

How to moisturize your skin | Harvard Health

The effect of full-face broadband light treatments alone and in combination with bilateral crow's feet Botulinum toxin type A chemodenervation | PubMed

Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics | PMC


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